Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Eckles v. Sharman case brief

Eckles v. Sharman case brief summary
548 F.2d 905 (1977)

Appellee ABA basketball team owner brought an action against appellants, a professional basketball coach and an NBA basketball team owner for breach of contract and inducement. The United States District Court for the District of Utah directed a verdict on liability against the coach. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the ABA owner on the remaining issues. Both appellants sought review.

The coach had signed a contract with a professional basketball team in LA. The LA team was sold to the ABA owner and moved to Utah. The coach subsequently resigned from the ABA team and became the coach of the NBA team.


  • The court held that a verdict could not be directed unless the evidence pointed one way and was susceptible of no reasonable inferences that sustained the position of the party against whom the motion was made. 
  • Since a reasonable man could have drawn an inference one way or the other on the provisions of the coach's contract in question, the matter was open on whether the provisions were essential terms of the contract and therefore not severable, or unessential terms and severable. 
  • The judgment of joint and severable damages was also reversed.

The court reversed the directed verdict on liability against the coach. The case was remanded for a new trial by a different judge outside the district of Utah because the trial judge had a strong personal bias and prejudice.

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